Marshall Signs 20 Players For 2008 Recruiting

Marshall had no surprises; that's exactly what Head Coach Mark Snyder was looking for on National Signing Day on Wednesday. Every player the Herd had a commitment from faxed in their National Letters of Intent (NLI) to join the MU football program. Scout.com, who the Herd Insider is affiliated with, ranked the Herd's class at 83rd in the nation, with two four-star and six three-star signing at MU.

Snyder is very pleased with the group, which will give the Herd its full limit of 85 scholarships since Snyder took the helm in 2005. "First I want to start by thanking a lot of people. I have to start with the athletic department, it takes a lot of people to make a recruiting class come together. The people on campus who gave of their time on Saturdays and Sundays. I would be remiss if I didn't thank our current players. As recruits come on the campus, they hear the same thing every school they go to, and I ask the recruits when they get to campus to ask the players, because the players don't lie. I have to commend our players, they did a great job of putting together what we feel is a pretty good recruiting class.

"As you look at this class I think we recruited a class with toughness, high character, athleticism and guys that fit our needs. We put a plan together as soon as the season was over and we met that plan so it's very good we met our needs. We went looking for defensive backs, wide receivers and linebackers and ended up getting those, a tight-end and a couple of running backs. We wanted to make sure we got the best possible player as we came down to the end here as guys become available, and we ended up taking one.

Marshall initially released the players by the times (EST) that they sent in the letters of intent, so here the 2008 recruiting class of the Thundering Herd is, in that order, starting with John Youboty, who was so excited he faxed his letter in a 6:37 Central time from Texas:

7:37 a.m. John Youboty - Defensive End, 6-foot-4, 230-pounds, Klein, Texas.
The younger brother of Buffalo Bills corner Ashton Youboty who played for Coach Snyder at Ohio State...rated as a three star prospect by both Rivals.com and Scout.com...ranked as the number 51 strong side defensive end in the country on Rivals.com...completed the 2007 season with 77 tackles and nine sacks...has been timed with 4.7 second speed in the 40-yard dash...will play in the City of Houston All-Star Game...chose Marshall over Louisville, Michigan State, and Nebraska.

7:46 a.m. Darryn Davis - Offensive/Defensive Lineman, 6-foot-5, 300-pounds, Lithonia, Ga.
Davis will play for the West All-Stars in Thursday's (Feb. 7) DeKalb County Coaches Association All-Star Football Game...the contest, scheduled to be played at James Hallford Stadium, featuring seniors from DeKalb County's 19 high schools along with players from Decatur, Marist and St. Pius...Davis' coach, M.L. King's Corey Jarvis, and fellow Marshall signees Cory McCutcheon and Ahmed Abdul-Shakoor of Stone Mountain will play for the East...only played two seasons of football, but was a three-year starter in basketball for M.L. King...although he sent his letter of intent to Marshall, Davis will instead attend Pearl River Community College in Miss., where Marshall picked up both O.J. Murdock and Brandon Burns in the current class.

8:05 a.m. Tyson Gale - Linebacker, 6-foot-3, 230-pounds, Alva, Okla.
Played both linebacker and tight end in high school for his father... was named first-team all-state in 2007 and was the District 2A1 Linebacker of the Year in 2007...was named to the 2007 District 2A All-State Team, as well as First-Team All-District at both tight end and Linebacker...was named as an Honorable Mention Candidate for the All State Team in 2006...finished the 2007 season with 157 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and five interceptions...also had 33 receptions for 430 yards, and six touchdowns as a tight end...selected to play in the Oil Bowl, played between the Oklahoma All-Star Team and the Texas All-Star Team...a three-sport standout who led his baseball team in home runs, runs batted in, and batting average in 2006, and currently leads his basketball team in scoring and rebounding...maintains a 3.97 GPA and scored a 27 on the ACT...Tyson is the nephew of Marshall Assistant Director of Athletics / Director of Football Operations Mark Gale, a former position coach for the Herd...chose Marshall over New Mexico.


Tyson Gale, an All-State linebacker from Oklahoma and the nephew of Mark Gale, MU Assoc. AD for Football Ops, joined his uncle at Marshall this morning on national signing day. photo from Scout.com.

8:15 a.m. Zachary "Zach" Tenuta - Tight End, 6-foot-3, 230-pounds, Marietta, Ga.
The son of Jon Tenuta, the current defensive coordinator at Notre Dame, who was the associate head coach/defense at Marshall when Coach Snyder starred at Marshall as a defensive back in 1987, setting an all-time record of ten interceptions in a season in helping the Herd to its first I-AA championship game...completed his senior season with 25 receptions for 300 yards and was named to the Cobb County All-Star Game...Zach is also a standout lacrosse player at Walton H.S., where he has scored 60 career goals and was named to the all-county team in 2006...may enroll in January of 2009 as a "gray-shirt," with five years to play four and an extra spring practice.

8:19 a.m. James Hatten - Tight End, 6-foot-5, 233-pounds, Hendersonville, N.C.
Ranked as the no. 61-ranked tight end in America and No. 39 overall player in North Carolina according to Scout.com...No. 50 tight end according to ESPN.com ...was named to the 2007 first-team all-state roster in 2007 and was selected to participate in the 2007 North Carolina All-Star Shrine Bowl...also received the Carolina Panthers Community Captain Award, which recognizes outstanding high school student-athletes who excel in the classroom, on the field, and in the community...during the 2007 season, he had 32 receptions for 395 yards and four touchdowns...on defense he boasted 128 tackles, eight sacks, five pass break ups, two fumble recoveries, and seven forced fumbles...chose Marshall over Wake Forest and Conference USA East Division rival East Carolina.


Jamie Hatten, a tight end from Hendersonville, N.C., was one of Marshall's first commitments and sent in his letter of intent to Thundering Herd coaches this morning. He is 6-foot-4, 220-pounds and runs a 4.65 40-yard dash. photo from Scout.com.

8:39 a.m. Kase Whitehead - Punter/Kicker, 5-foot-10, 180-pounds, Maryville, Tenn.
Averaged 41.7 yards a punt as a junior and placed 15 kicks inside the 20-yard line...the first player in Blount H.S. history to earn a Division I scholarship...was a finalist for Tennessee's Mr. Football Award and invited to the East-West All-Star Game...was the 2007 Punter-of-the-Year and named to the 2007 All-County team.

8:59 a.m. Jordan Taylor - Running Back, 6-foot-1, 205-pounds, South Bend, Ind.
Carried his team to a 12-2 record and a berth in the Indiana class 3-A state title game... rated as a two-star prospect on Rivals.com and was coached at St. Joseph by former Notre Dame and Washington Redskins' and Tampa Bay Buccaneers' running back Reggie Brooks...In 2007, Jordan was named to the All-Northern Indiana Conference First Team, and all-area by the South Bend Tribune...he was also named the MVP of the Northern Ind. Conference and the South Bend Tribune "Dream Team"...finished his senior season at St. Joseph Prep with 2,500 yards and 27 touchdowns and was the leading rusher in the state of Indiana in 2007...turned down Purdue, Indiana and Illinois...still reportedly has some work to do to get eligible for 2008.

9:19 a.m. Devin Arrington - Defensive Back, 6-foot-2, 205-pounds, Chesapeake, Va.
Attended MU Football 2007 Summer Camp at Joan C. Edwards Stadium and will be the seventh player from Deep Creek High to join the Thundering Herd program...played defensive back and receiver at the prep level, but projects as a safety or linebacker at the collegiate level...4x100-meter district champion on the track and has been timed with a 4.59 forty time....was first-team All-Tidewater, second-team All-State and first-team All Southeastern District in 2007...During the 2007 season he recorded 75 tackles, five sacks and two interceptions...offensively, he posted 15 catches for 275 yards and five scores...he selected Marshall over Northern Illinois, Kent State and Akron among others.

9:38 a.m. Jamal Wilson - Wide Receiver, 5-foot-11, 176-pounds, Chesapeake, Va.
Recorded 620 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior...recorded 30 receptions for 690 yards and 13 total touchdowns in 2006 on his way to All-District and second team All-Tidewater honors...Still attempting to get qualified, but may enroll at Marshall as a prop and be eligible for 2009 season, with chance to earn back fourth year.

10:40 a.m. Leshawn Henderson - Cornerback, 6-foot-1, 180-pounds, Okeechobee, Fla.
Competing against Division I-A talent on a near-weekly basis in Florida 4A, the Okeechobee High School (Fla.) standout ranked among the region's top defensive backs...timed with 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash...named second team 4A All-State, as well as the Palm Beach Post Super 11 and the Palm Beach Post First-Team All-Area Team in 2007...selected to play in the 2007 Outback All-Star Game...recorded four interceptions in 2007 and an impressive 19 interceptions in his career...chose Marshall over Florida Atlantic and North Carolina.


Leshawn Henderson, a 6-foot-1 cornerback from Okeechobee (Fla.) High School, is now going to be a member of the 2008 Thundering Herd. photo from Scout.com

10:53 a.m. Martin Ward - Running Back, 5-foot-9, 188-pounds, Jonesboro, Ga.
The No. 17 running back in the country according to ESPN.com...rated as the nation's No. 24 running back prospect and Georgia's No. 36 overall prospect by Rivals.com.... Scout.com ranked him as a three-star recruit and the No. 54 running back in the nation... After rushing for 970 yards and seven touchdowns on 129 carries (7.5-yard average) as a junior, he followed up with 1,379 yards (9.2-yard average) and 15 touchdowns and caught 11 passes for 181 yards and another touchdown... Martin was named as one of the players in the Street and Smith Magazine Top 300 prospects in the 2008 class and was a Clayton County Super 11 Selection in both the 2006 and 2007 season...was a finalist for the ESPN All-American Game and was named First-Team All-Crescent Conference...chose Marshall over Louisville, Purdue, and Georgia...The Charleston Gazette reported on Thursday that Ward was eligible, while the Charleston Daily Mail reported that same day that Ward had some work to do to become eligible in 2008.


Martin Ward, shown on the practice field at Mount Zion High School in Jonesboro, Ga., would appear to be another home run in recruiting by Marshall head coach Mark Snyder. photo from InsideCarolina.scout.com

11:07 a.m. Ahmed Shakoor - Cornerback, 5-foot-11, 189-pounds, Stone Mountain, Ga.
The no. 27 cornerback in the nation according to ESPN.com...Ranked as the No. 46 cornerback in the nation by Rivals.com... earned first team All-County honors as a junior...timed with a 4.44 second 40-yard dash...was selected to participate in the 2007 DeKalb County All-Star East team from Stephenson H.S., where he was named a team captain and posted two interceptions and five tackles...was also named first-team All-County and second-team All-Georgia in 2007... had 50 tackles, 12 pass broken-up and he returned a kickoff for a touchdown as a senior...will join his high school teammate Cory McCutchen as the only two players in MU's 2008 class coming from the same high school...chose Marshall over Conference USA East Division rival East Carolina, as well as Louisiana Tech, Louisville and Virginia Tech.


Ahmed Abdul-Shakoor, a cornerback from Stone Mountain, Ga., signed with Marshall this morning. His teammate at Stone Mountain, Cory McCutchen - a wide receiver, also signed this afternoon. photo from Scout.com

11:16 a.m. Demetrius Thomas Running Back, 6-foot-1, 200-pounds, Theodore, Ala.
Rushed for over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons at Theodore (Ala.) H.S., including 2,000 total yards in 2007...rushed for 1,793 yards as a senior, with 18 touchdowns, and had 265 receiving yards and five more scores...he totaled 860 yards and four touchdowns on kick returns...timed with 4.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash...chose Marshall over Conference USA East Division rival Southern Miss, plus Colorado and Iowa State...reportedly has some work to take care of academically to be eligible this fall.


Demetrius Thomas, a running back from Theodore, Alabama, signed with Marshall football this morning on day one of national signing day. photo from Scout.com.

1:07 p.m. Cory McCutchen - Wide Receiver, 6-foot-4, 178-pounds, Stone Mountain, Ga.
Joins his high school teammate, Ahmed Abdul-Shakoor as the only two players in Marshall's 2008 class coming from the same school, Stephenson H.S....is rated a two-star recruit by Rivals.com...was selected to play in the DeKalb County All-Star Game with Shakoor and against Davis...also named as an honorable mention candidate for All-Georgia honors...timed with a 4.5 40-yard dash...completed the 2007 season with 20 receptions for 600 yards and seven touchdowns.

2:50 p.m. O.J. Murdock - Wide Receiver, 6-foot, 185-pounds, Tampa, Fla.
A four-star prospect according to Scout.com and possibly the best catch of the MU recruiting class...he originally signed with South Carolina out of high school...rated the No. 10 wide receiver in the country by Rivals.com for the class of 2005...ranked among the top-100 junior college players by Rivals.com for 2008...timed with a 4.35-second time in the 40-yard dash...racked up over 1,700 yards and 18 touchdowns receiving in his final two seasons in high school...named first-team All-County and All-California Juco...selected for the Florida-California Bowl and was selected to play in the U.S. Army National All-Star game, but was unable to participate...rated as the seventh-best wide receiver in the country by Prep Star and the 26th-best player in the Southeast by recruiting guru Tom Lemming...also ran track...was fourth in the state in the 100 and 200-meters as a sophomore and won the state 100-meter dash as a senior... was a national champion sprinter at the age of 14...he will have two years of playing eligibility left and will enroll in May 2008...committed to play for Marshall over Louisville.


O.J. Murdock, a four-star rated recruit by Scout.com, joined the Marshall Thundering Herd by signing Wednesday. photo from Scout.com.

3:00 p.m. Brandon Burns - Safety, 6-foot-4, 215-pounds, Columbiana, Ala.
Burns is from Pearl River CC, just like Murdock...rated as a three-star prospect and one of the top-100 junior college players in America by Scout.com...tallied 70 tackles and three interceptions last season at Pearl River...he will have two years of eligibility remaining and will join the Herd in May of 2008...was a standout prep player at Shelby County High in Alabama...was recruited by Conference USA East Division rivla Southern Miss as well as Mississippi State, among many others.


Brandon Burns is one of two players signed Wednesday from Pearl River Community College by Marshall A third signed player, Darryn Davis, will attend Pearl River in 2008, but may still re-sign with Marshall. photo from Scout.com.

One additional junior college player sent in his national letter of intent after the official Marshall release at 4 p.m.:
Charles "Chuck" Walker - Wide Receiver, Laney College, Oakland, California, 5-foot-10/185-pounds (Hometown: Hayward, Calif.)
Walker had 56 receptions for over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns last season at Laney...has been timed with 4.4 speed in the 40-yard dash...rated three stars by Scout.com...he will have three years to use his remaining two years of playing eligibility...chose Marshall over California, Hawaii, San Jose State and New Mexico State among others.

"We ended up signing 12 high school and seven junior college kids, and as you look at the class of 19 we signed eight on defense, 10 on offense and one on special teams," said Snyder. "It is interesting because as you look at this class, we signed a kid out of every state of every team we play in our conference except Louisiana. As you look at where the players were signed from, two (are) from Alabama two from Florida, four from Georgia, one from Virginia, two from Tennessee, one from North Carolina, four from California, one from Mississippi, one from Texas (and) one from Indiana. There's a wide variety of states and cultures that are all coming together. We feel very good about this class, and we feel like we have met all of our needs as we put our plan together."

Marshall previously signed a strong group of four junior college player who started the spring semester at MU and will be considered as members of this class. These players will go through spring football in April, including:

TE-JC Maurice Graham-College of the Sequioas, Visalia, Cal.-6-foot-5/275-pounds (signed 1/13/08), and rated the No. 1 junior college tight end in the nation;
CB-JC Joshua "Josh" Miller-College of the Sequoias, Visalia, Cal. (signed 12/19/2007);
OT-JC Jimmy Rogers-Mississippi Delta-Moorhead, Mississippi, 6-foot-4/330-pounds (signed 12/19/2007);
WLB/DE-JC Andre Portis-College of San Mateo, San Mateo, Cal.-6-foot-3/240-pounds/4.6 40 (signed 12/19/07)

Also starting school as "gray-shirts," or players (who delay their eligibility clocks by enrolling in January), were cornerback Omar Brown, 5-foot-10, 175 pounds from Moncks Corner, S.C.; running back/linebacker George Carpenter, 5-10, 200-pounds from Lancaster, Ohio; and offensive lineman Micah Carter, 6-foot-5, 320-pounds from Beckley, W.Va. and Woodrow Wilson H.S.

Marshall also has four players sitting out this season for various reasons who will begin workouts with the football team at the end of the semester. They include 6-foot-5, 250-pound defensive end Vinny Curry (who impressed coaches and media for the first two weeks of August's two-a-days last year before being forced to sit out with NCAA Clearing House issues), defensive tackles Delvin Johnson (6-foot-3, 285-pounds) and Brandon Bullock (6-foot-3, 305-pounds) and running back Jo Jo Cox (5-foot-10, 210), who originally signed with Clemson. The latter three are all props, but reportedly are making great academic progress at Marshall and all four hope to be ready in May.

Cox rushed for over 5,500 yards in three seasons at Twiggs County High School in Johnson County, Ga. He was signed by Clemson after drawing offers from WVU, Maryland, Penn State, Purdue and UCLA but was a non-qualifier. He played in 2006 at Fork Union Military Academ, then signed with the Herd but sat out last season as a prop. Bullock was first team All-Conference and All-South New Jersey, as well as second team All-State at Absegami H.S. in Egg Harbor, N.J. He had 82 tackles, eight sacks and forced four fumbles as team MVP.

Johnson was first team All-State at Woodruff (S.C.) High School, with 56 tckles, 11 sacks and six forced fumbles, as well as averaging 17 points per game in basketball. These players will not be involved with spring practice, but Marshall's spring practice will include the four previously signed jucos, three gray-shirts and many returners with start the first week of April and the Green-White Spring Game coming up on April 26.


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